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Kate Hawkesby: Sledging Savea and the blood sport of attacking players

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 February 2019, 7:01a.m.
Julian Savea has a year left on his contract, to say he's not welcome at the club is just plain nasty. Photo / Getty Images

COMMENT:

I feel bad for Julian Savea. I don't think anyone deserves the public flogging he got from his club's owner this week.

In case you missed it, Mourad Boudjellal had a go at Savea (in a public forum), saying the sort of stuff that should've been relegated to a clubroom.

Why he needed to bag him so publicly is beyond me. He said Savea should have a DNA test, that he wasn't the Savea they signed, and that he was 'no longer welcome' at the club.

"If I was him I'd apologise and go back to my home country", Boudjellal told a French radio station.

Wow, brutal.

It wasn't long before the stream of abuse against Savea started to roll in from Toulon fans on social media.

There were comments from people wishing his mother got cancer, calling him fat, saying he had bigger boobs than his wife.

What possesses people to abuse someone online like this is beyond me - but his wife wasn't having a bar of it.

Fatima Savea lashed back at the trolls saying she was absolutely disgusted by them, and that people should take a minute to think about how their words can affect someone's life.

Yes, competition is important and high-level rugby is a cut-throat business and performance is important - but mudslinging and name calling is surely not necessary.

Julian Savea has a year left on his contract, to say he's not welcome at the club is just plain nasty.

Since when do owners bully their own players?

After a couple of days of clearly letting the shock subside, Savea tweeted in response to all this that he's putting all the negativity behind him, and heading into the week with a positive attitude "whether he's welcomed or not".

Good on him.

Taking people down in sport has become a sport for too many people and it's not cool. 
And not all sportspeople may be as well supported or as strong as Savea.

I find it staggering that in this climate of heightened awareness of mental health we still ridicule and demean and wish people ill will publicly.

But more than that, that it can come from the top down.

A club owner's can ask for accountability and performance sure - but they should also show some leadership and basic respect.

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